Business Technology

Sunday 21 July 2019

'My teacher steered me away from journalism into life of science' - Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain

Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain
Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain

Tanya Sweeney

Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain had revealed that her school guidance counsellor steered her away from a journalism career towards a life of science.

Speaking at the 2nd annual Creative Tech Awards at Google’s HQ in Dublin, the TV presenter and PhD candidate acknowledged that in terms of education, she was one of the lucky ones.

“I had a great maths teacher in primary school and a great physics teacher in secondary school, and they saw my aptitude for maths and turned me off journalism,” she says.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have studied theoretical physics in UCD. We had no option to study applied maths. A number of schools today don’t offer honours maths and many of them are all-girls’ schools, so that gender discrepancy was still there.”

Referring to the male-dominated tech and science industry, she adds: “I came from a house of five brothers so I’m used to boys, but there was a difference when I started my PhD in Physics in London, and I saw a real difference in men and women approaching in the subject.”

For now, the Science Squad host, who also works in the school of Mathematical Sciences at UCD, is glad to be a role model to the aspiring tech and science stars of tomorrow… both male and female: “In some ways I don’t feel I deserve it, but if I’m doing something to incentivise girls to say, ‘I like maths’, that’s great."

"But there are so many female role models out there, from the head of the School of Maths at Trinity college (Sinead Ryan), to a number of maths and science professors in UCD. We need to showcase them a little bit more. We need those successful female role models so that the younger generation will come through and feel more confident about studying these subjects.”

The Creative Tech Summit is an event run by TechSpace, an after-school programme that inspires young people aged 8-18 to become digital creators and innovators.

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